Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Tuition Hike? [Updated]

We're getting news of another tuition hike in the UC system: at their next meeting, the Regents will apparently consider an increase of up to 20 percent for next fall. This should not come as a surprise to any of us, since we are well aware that UC's decision to increase student tuition has little if anything to do with budget cuts at the state level and far more to do with risky Wall Street investments, bond rating agencies like Moody's, and collateral for construction projects.

Furthermore, tuition increases form an important part of the recommendations generated by the UC Commission on the Future. In their draft report for October 2010 [pdf], the Regents go far out of their way to leave open the possibility of drastic tuition hikes. They do this in two ways. First, by rejecting Recommendation 8 ("Adopt a Multi-year Tuition Schedule"). This recommendation -- itself problematic, since it does nothing to reverse the shift toward privatization -- would have systematized tuition increases in four- or five-year blocks in order to prevent the shock of students' tuition being raised in the middle of their university career. In rejecting the proposal, however, the Regents declared
Adopting a multi-year tuition schedule would, however, reduce flexibility in tuition revenue and require the University to make contingency plans. Since continuing students would be assured a fixed tuition increase rate, any revenue required beyond that amount -- due to a sudden decline in state funding, for example -- would have to be generated by the 30 percent of students who would be subject to the “new” student rate. In addition, application of the multi-year tuition schedule should be contingent on a maintenance of effort by the State. In the case of significant and abrupt state budget cuts, the University might need to adopt an emergency tuition increase outside of the scheduled amount. (p. 15)
They rejected the proposal, in other words, in order to maintain what they call "flexibility": the ability to raise tuition at will, for any reason they deem appropriate (that "for example" is extremely telling).

Second, at the end of the report, the Regents deliberated on a series of what they called "contingency recommendations," that were neither approved nor rejected at the time but could be brought up in the future if, as they put it, "the fiscal crisis [should] deepen and state and other funding sources continue to decline" (p. 26). One of these recommendations reads as follows:
Substantially increase tuition and fees, including charging differential tuition by campus (see Recommendation 17), as part of a broad based program to sustain the University.
Given the UCOF recommendations, it should come as no surprise that the Regents would consider another large tuition increase. Some people, like reporter Matt Krupnick of the Contra Costa Times and the Oakland Tribune, are skeptical of these claims, stating that "UC is not considering a 20% tuition hike for next fall." But instead of just discounting these rumors, the Bay Citizen actually followed up on them:
[UC Budget Director Patrick] Lenz told The Bay Citizen that students asked him about whether the UC Regents would consider fee hikes at their November meeting and how large the fee hikes could be.

Lenz told the students fee hikes would be considered that could "range anywhere from 0 to 20 percent."

"I was trying to give a very broad picture to students," he said. "I don't believe for a minute that 20 percent is going to be considered."

Last November, the UC Regents passed a 32 percent fee hike that was implemented over the spring and fall 2010 semesters.

Information about student fee considerations will be available early next month when the agenda for the upcoming regents meeting is released.
The increase could be anywhere from 0 to 20 percent. In other words, the original rumor was exactly right: UC is in fact considering another tuition hike of up to 20 percent. This is one of the issues that will be decided on at the next Regents' meeting at UCSF Mission Bay campus, on November 16-18.

Update [Friday 10/15]: It should be pointed out that an alternative interpretation of these rumors is that the UCOP and the UC Regents want to raise tuition by, say, 10 percent, and are intentionally floating the possibility of a 20 percent hike in an attempt to preemptively minimize the outrage in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment